I wonder what it is that makes the end of a decade so important? Magazines, newspapers and television are filled with decade memories as if somehow the moment that the year 2000 c.e. arrived we entered a new discrete chapter of history that is coming to its discrete end on December 31, 2009. Is our obsession with decades what is meant by decadence?
My first real encounter with that came in the transition from the 50s to the 60s. The decade of childhood had ended. The wonderful decade of adulthood was blossoming. Well, so much for that one. It was also a time of speculation about the wonderful future that would lie just on the other side of the magical year 2000. I recall the bunch of us calculating how old we would be then and wondering if we might be too aged to enjoy it. The ‘FUTURE!‘ Whatever it was, would exist in a wholly different world, yet it would be our world and it would begin in 2000. We could get a glimpse of it at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I was there. I saw the future and it was intoxicating.
Now the first decade of that future is ending. Not only am I confused about what makes ten such an important number, but I confess some disillusion about the FUTURE. Where is my flying car? Why does my kitchen not offer up prepared meals at my command? For that matter, why does it look a lot like it did eleven years ago? How can it be that the century old water and sewer pipes in my city are failing? Why does the international space station look like an orbiting junk heap and not like a proper Disney designed wheel? For that matter, does HAL live in my computer? So many questions. So few answers. Maybe by 2020? This, this decade coming, maybe this decade will be the FUTURE.
Or maybe, on this sixth day of Christmas in the Year of our Lord 2009 by the conventional calendar, we might recall that the future came a long time ago. In that coming all decades were transcended.